My Memories of John Calvin and Mellie Rose Penrod Stearns

Memories of my Grandparents
John Calvin (JC) Stearns and Mellie Rose Penrod Stearns and Their Children and Grandchildren By Mellie Ceil Stearns DeYoung


John Calvin Stearns and Mellie Rose Penrod Stearns
Somewhere in a book about the history of Southern Illinois that once was shelved in the Southern Illinois University Library it says that John Stearns put the first steam engine in Southern Illinois. I do not remember if that was John Dump or John Calvin but I asked Dad (Andrew Stearns) about it and he remembered that steam engine. It might have been the old steam John Deer tractor that I remember from those days in the log cabin in Cove Hollow, but I don’t know if it was or not. I do remember when I was grown up and ask Dad about this historical steam engine. He said it had to be level to work right. He claimed that he was good at getting it level. Some would get out there with their levels and fuss with it while he just eyeballed it, according to him. I loved that old John Deer though. I remember Dad opening the steam cocks and how about every third putt it would pop. I remember it had this long belt (about twice as long as the tractor) and about a foot wide that connected to a saw (mill) that would cut trimmed trees into boards. I don’t know what else it did because I was only three at the time.   

My earliest memories of Grandpa John Calvin, and Mellie Rose Stearns were during that time we lived in that little log cabin in Cove Hollow and that old steam John Deer tractor was around. Grandpa and Grandma lived up the big hill to the west of us. There were always a lot of people in their two story house. One reason for this was that five of grandmother’s twelve (minus the two that died, Esther Coleen and Ray Wilbur) half of them were still at home when I came along. That would be Gertrude, Julie, Jim, Edna and Ruth.  Besides that a lot of the time when we were there Dad’s sister Claudine and Uncle Ogle was there with my cousin Dolly who was about a year older than me. Sometimes Dad’s brother Uncle Lorne and Aunt Mae were there with Charles David who was also about a year older than me. My Dad was Andrew Stearns the first of Grandmother Mellie Stearns’ children. 

When we grandchildren were very young two or three years-old grandpa would bounce us on his knee while singing, “Trot a little horsy down to town, careful little horsy don’t fall down.” He would drop his leg out and let us slide down.  I remember that Grandpa JC always had a mustache. There is a story that he shaved it off once and the children didn’t recognize him and cried because there was this strange man sitting in his chair, so he had to let it grow back. 

Grandmother as far back as I can remember always had a braid on her head. I do not remember for sure if she always wore it across the top of her head or if in the early days she wore it in a bun in back of her head. I apparently had some idea of what a bun was because when my sister Annis Jane Stearns was born Aunt Gertrude came over to help out. I was about five at the time. I don’t remember when Harold Lewis was born because I was only two I guess. He must have been born in that old log cabin also because we didn’t move until I was five and Annis was born just before my birthday in October. I don’t remember them waking Harold up that night, but I remember the next day he was jealous of the baby. He would pat her head and say pretty baby while with the other hand he pinched her.
They woke me up to tell me I had a little sister. So I went out to the living room where they had moved Mom and Dad’s big bed. Aunt Edna and some others had come over a day or two before and moved it out of their tiny bedroom. That house had two bedrooms on opposite sides of the living room. All four rooms were the same size, big enough for a full size bed and just enough extra room to open and close the bedroom door. 

Along with Doctor Tweedy, Aunt Gertrude was there (She would have been about 21 at that time) and I think Aunt Hazle (Dad’s step brother Uncle Laten’s wife) was there. My Mom was Virginia Lee Stearns. She sometimes got mail for Uncle Jack’s wife who was also Virginia Stearns.
So after I oohed and gooed at the new baby for a while, I think they wanted to get rid of me so Doctor Tweedy could do his doctor thing. Aunt Gertrude said, “Come on let’s go out to the kitchen.” I always asked why and it drove my mom nuts but Aunt Gertrude said, “To find something to eat.” (Why else would we go to the kitchen I guess) So I got the idea the food was for the baby. She kept me busy looking until she got the all clear signal. I came back with a biscuit for the baby. But Dad said the baby couldn’t eat it right then.
Aunt Hazle and the Doctor left but Aunt Gertie stayed and cooked and cleaned for us for a few days. I found her sitting down one day and declared that I would put her hair in a bun. I’m thinking at that time Grandma wrapped her hair in a bun because I definitely had some idea how it was done. I don’t ever recall my mother wearing a bun. She would make a roll at the nap of her neck or behind her ears but not a bun. So I combed and twisted and stuck bobby pins in Aunt Gertie’s hair. When I was done she felt of the back of her head and commented that she didn’t have enough hair for a bun. “That’s why I made it a biscuit.” I said.
Later when I was older, maybe nine or ten, I remember sitting with Grandmother in the swing on the front porch while she took the braids out and combed them, and then braided it and up again. At that time she did wear them over the top of her head just as when this picture was taken.

 I found out that she did not comb her hair every day as she insisted that I do.( She always wanted me to have my hair in braids so it wouldn’t be in my eyes.) She combed her hair every other day she said. Many years later after I was married, I’m thinking it was around 1966 or later. At that time she lived on the other side of the tracks near Lantana Baptist Church  in Carbondale so it was well after Grandpa died. She started having bad headaches. The Doctor told her it was from the weight of those braids. He wanted her to cut her hair. She had wore her hair up in braids all her life and it was hard for her to give them up. She didn’t pile it on her head anymore but wore it in one braid down
her back. The headaches were still bad, but she wouldn’t cut her hair. One day Aunt Julie was there, and came up behind her as she sat in her rocking chair and chopped the braid off with a pair of scissors. I still have the braid downstairs in Great Grandpa Frank Penrod’s old trunk.

Speaking of Great Grandpa Penrod, if I ever get to heaven, after I’ve visited with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and my Heavenly Father I want to talk with Great Grandpa. I’m sure he’ll be there. I’ve asked a lot of questions about him and it is the look people who knew him get on their faces when I say his name that intrigues me the most. It’s a look of awe and reverence. Dad said his Grandpa Penrod loved to talk about the scriptures, and when he prayed the room moved. I take that to mean that you could feel the Spirit really strong. I’m pretty sure that he did love his scriptures because in that old trunk is a small notebook and on every page is list and list of scriptures. Dad said he was actually kicked out of – was it Dutch Ridge Church? So that’s where the strong headed rebel in me comes from and Grandma too. She and the kids went out to Dutch Ridge one cold snowy day for church. Either no one came or the preacher sent them home because it was too cold. Somehow Grandma and the preacher got into a long discussion about Matthew 5:28 that says, “whoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” I guess Grandmother thought the scripture meant just what it said and the preacher was willing to give us a little lee way.

Despite all of that I recall a story about how the “boys” I’m not sure who that was, but her boys and neighbors or cousins would play cards in the barn or maybe in the shed across the road from the barn I don’t recall which. If you were going to play cards in her house it had to be Old Maid, but this wasn’t Old Maid.  Anyway the preacher came one day because he had heard about the boys playing cards and she told him, “Well, at least I know where they are.”

Grandpa grew watermelons, the best around I’m told. There are stories about the “boys” getting into his watermelons and his “friendly” war with them. Uncle Walter once complained that he never did get enough of Johnny’s watermelons. One day Grandpa decided to let him get his fill. Uncle Walter didn’t feel too good the next day and was seen on the path to the outhouse an unusual number of times. Poor Uncle Walter.

Grandpa loved to play baseball or horseshoes with the “kids,” I wasn’t there but they say that the day before he died he got outside and played with the kids. It was the first Sunday in March of 1954 and I was a sophomore in high school at Alto Pass. They lived in the house at Oak Grove Heights in Carbondale at the time. Grandpa had gone to Doctors Hospital I’m not sure what the diagnoses was, but he put his clothes on and walked out of the hospital on Saturday night. The next day being Sunday, he could not help but go out and play ball with the kids. That was probably Uncle Jack’s kids I’m guessing because he lived close. He passed away on Monday, March 4, 1954. The cause of death was a strangulated hernia. I remember Grandmother was just in shock. She had this stunned look on her face and sat like a sack of flour. She had to have the help of two people to walk.  I was afraid she would die as well. Somehow, she pulled herself together and went on.

That summer we moved from the old Tripp house (RR# 4 Carbondale then, Paradise Lane, now)  to the log cabin near Hugh Stearns’  at Boskeydell because Dad was working at the Stearns Locker plant in Boskeydell. I started high school at Carbondale as a junior that fall and would spend the week with Grandma at her house on College Street in Carbondale and come home on the weekend. I stayed with her all the time when I went to SIU and seldom went home.  We talked a lot during that time and I got to know her. Dolly stayed there a lot too. I called her house Grand Central Station because a lot of different people from different walks of life were in her house every day.

She had married Grandpa when she was sixteen and he was thirty-six. When he died she was only about sixty. I don’t know who, (she wouldn’t tell me) but apparently someone, or several some ones asked her to marry and she flat out refused. She wanted to save herself clean and pure for her Johnny when she got to Heaven. Grandma truly loved her Johnny. Some people were just married and lived in the same house, but I could tell that Grandpa and Grandma truly loved each other. I don’t even know how to explain that, but it made an impression on me. I wanted that same spark, that respect and kindness that was between them when I got married. What better legacy could a couple leave their children and grandchildren? I do not want to give the impression that they were lovey-dovey. They weren’t. They had their disagreements most of it over politics. Grandpa was a dyed in the wool Democrat and Grandma a Republican and they had strong disagreements on that subject. Like I said, I have no idea how to explain what they had that I thought was so special.

She died 14 August 1969. I think I was probably living in Morton, Illinois at that time. I do remember that at her funeral was the first and only time I had ever been ashamed of being named after her. Not because of her, but because I felt that I could never live up to the great lady she had been.

She was so different than her sisters Lizzy and Hester. She was just plain and simple. No fancy hairdo, but with her hair pulled back in braids out of the way, she was a hard worker, strong willed, and humble. Her dishes were chipped but she always set a plate for whoever walked in the door at dinner time. She didn’t wear furs, or fancy rings, but she cared about people and shared what she could.

And yet there was elegance about her.

I loved my Grandmother and her Johnny.



Why I don't do guilt anymore:

I Don’t Do Guilt

My cousin Silas Earl and I had been swimming in the creek. It was time for him to go home. I thought it would be fun to put something down his shirt so I scooped up a water skipper and slipped it down his collar. It wasn’t funny like I thought – the skipper bit him. I didn’t know they would bite. I felt bad about it. He and his family left. I’m hanging back and not saying good bye, because I’m sorry and ashamed. That was the last time I ever saw him alive.

Within a week or two we heard that he had the Mumps, a week, or two after that he had Scarlet Fever along with the Mumps. A week or two later he died. I simply refused to believe he was dead. The day came for the funeral and everyone was dressed to go –except me. When Dad asked me why I wasn’t ready I explained that if I didn’t go I could go on believing that he was alive. I could believe that any day Uncle Latent would come driving down our road with Silas Earl and he and I could go back to pulling pranks on each other.

Dad sat down next to me and taught me a few things.

He told me that death is not a thing to fear. We all die. From the moment we begin to breath we begin to die. In fact we came here to die. It doesn’t matter when we die, if we are young or old, the important thing is how we lived our life. If we have lived our life with honesty and truth then God will welcome us home and say well done thou good and faithful servant.

I have never feared death since.

The other thing he said was that we don’t go to the funeral for the person who died but for those left behind. We go to show respect and Aunt Hazel and Uncle Latent were going to be very hurt if I wasn’t there.

The third thing I learned from this experience took some time to sink in. When Silas Earl left that day I was sorry and ashamed and I never got the chance to say that. It took years before I realized he had forgave me. But it taught me to keep the slate clean and never carry guilt. Always say sorry, I forgive you, and I love you right then – at the time – because you may never get the chance again. Always be honest about it, repent, and forgive yourself. Keep the slate clean and don’t do guilt.


Finding the Right Bus

I have a son who was born visually impaired. He didn't look handicapped. When he went to school, his peers made fun of him because he had to get right up to the school buses in order to see the number on each bus. Only the bus with the right number on it would bring him safely home.

We are surrounded by people like my son, whose problems can't be seen. I just read some alarming statistics about depression, abuse, addiction and suicide in the state of Utah. All of these individuals have areas of their lives that are not desirable and yet somehow they must find their way safely back home. I was not there to help my son, his teachers were busy with other task, his brother and sister and childhood friends went to a different school. This was something he had to do for himself and it didn't help to have kids make fun of him.

Gaining your own testimony, overcoming your fears, and having faith is like finding the right bus. The road back home may not be easy even when you are on the right bus, but how much better to be on the right bus than still waiting at the bus stop. God lives. He loves us and has prepared every needful thing for our return. For this I am thankful.

Ceil DeYoung


Is there someone in your life who is driving you crazy?

Three years ago, I was friends with an individual who was literally driving me crazy. Maybe I should not even say we were friends. We were acquaintances because there was no bond between us not in the way there is with friends. We weren’t married and we were never lovers. We enjoyed time together but that was where the friendship ended. He was very helpful but whatever the situation he was always charming and entertaining.

He cared, or at least he said he did, about my family and friends. Actually, he did a lot of good but he was not in it for the long haul. If it suited him to be present, he was there but if one came to depend on him, he was gone in a flash. He didn’t make excuses like — I didn’t show because the alarm didn’t go off or whatever. He said he didn’t show because I made him uncomfortable. In other words, it was my fault. I had crossed his boundaries whatever that meant. He was literally driving me crazy.

I am a logical person and his behavior was illogical to me so I went on the internet searching for answers and found Kim and Steve. As I read the material, I could not believe how accurately they described this person. Kim and Steve are a husband and wife team and Steve used to drive Kim crazy in exactly the way this acquaintance of mine drove me crazy –same words, same behavior in many examples.

Confabulation, noun, meaning to converse or to speak. In psychology a fabricated narration told as truth.


During an argument with his wife Al stated, “Jim threatened to kill me.”

“I don’t believe that,” Sue responded “Why would he want to kill you?”

“Because he’s having an affair with you and wants me out of the way.”

“That’s crazy. Why would you think that?”

“Because I heard you tell Alice you wanted to move in with him.”

“I did no such thing.” Sue grabbed her phone and began dialing. “Alice, did I ever say to you that I wanted to move in with Jim?”

Alice answered, “No.”

“Would you please tell Al that?” Sue offered the phone to Al and he refused to take it.

Gaslighting, verb, meaning arrogant intimidation. Stalling. Psychological abuse in which one individual tries to make another individual believe an untruth.


Sally truly loved everyone including Jack. She thought of the young man as her son and always invited him to family gatherings. The grandchildren loved to have Jack come and he seemed to enjoy being with them. Then he stopped visiting with them. When Sally asked him about it he made it her fault claiming she had crossed his boundaries. Sally was confused and while she did not understand how it could be her fault or where these boundaries suddenly came from she cried and apologized profusely.

Stonewalling, verb. Delaying tactics. Refusing to talk. Ignoring request or questions.


When asked about her behavior Jane stated, “I have no need to defend myself.” Another time she said, “I have no desire to help you understand anything.”

At one time Kim Cooper was being stonewalled by her husband Steve. As you can imagine this made life very disorganized and confusing. Kim loved Steve and did not want the marriage to end in divorce but things could not go on the way they were. By following her insides Kim was able to make some changes in her own life that eventually caused Steve to change.

Today Kim and Steve run a web site that offers help to those who love someone with similar problems. Steve now talks openly about the tactics he used to keep Kim confused so that he could feel safe with her. Together they are able to help both the abuser and the abused as they relate their experiences in the e-books, weekly emails and videos offered on the site.

When Kim began to change she set some ground rules to protect her self and the children. She then let Steve know that she loved him but she would not allow him to treat her as he had before. As her focus moved from trying to please Steve to being the person she was meant to be she stopped crying and getting hurt and angry. As a result she could see through his confabulations and didn’t let them stop her from her own individual path. This took time and Kim admits she made a lot of mistakes along the way but when Steve found he couldn’t push her buttons anymore he began to change as well.

As in the example of gaslighting given above many people wonder if they are the one starting the fights. Kim has three questions that helps one find out if they are the abuser. After years of research and studies she also has answers in either case. You can find Kim and Steve Cooper on Facebook or go directly to their site at http://www.narcissismcured.com


The Downward Spiral

How fragile our testimonies are and yet the scriptures tell us over and over again what we need to do to keep them strong. In the words of King Benjamin salvation comes to him (or her) that “trust in the Lord, and . . . (is) diligent in keeping his commandments and continue (s) in the faith even unto the end of his life.” (Mosiah 4:6)

How easy it is to let our daily problems keep us from the things we should do. Once we begin the downward spiral we don’t even notice the withdrawal of the Spirit. When my husband of 43 years died, I went into a comma, spiritually speaking. Oh, I came to church every Sunday, I read my Book of Mormon, and I did my visiting teaching but something was different. I said I was coasting but in truth, I was slipping. I finally came to the point where I thought about taking my own life. In my darkest moment, a sister called me. It wasn’t convenient for her to call me in the middle of fixing the evening meal and getting her children ready for a school activity but she felt prompted. I am forever grateful she was living close to the Spirit and made that call. Slowly I have awakened to a remembrance of the goodness of the Lord and the sweetness of his mercy. How I love Alma 17:2 where Alma the younger met up with the sons of Mosiah. “And what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord, yea they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth.” May it be so for each of us and for those we love. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.



Jealousy is the opposite of love.

Love says, I care about you.

Jealousy says, I care about me. I care about what you can do for me, and how you make me feel. Jealousy says you are my possession. You can’t think your own thoughts, and you can’t leave .

Love says I care about you just the way you are. I accept you with all your strengths and weakness. I don’t own you. You are free to make your own decisions. I like it when you agree with me, I like it we are together and the way I feel when you are near but that must be real. It must be what you want. I don’t want you if I have to force you to hang around. I don’t want you if you don’t want me.

Jealousy is about self. Love is about others as well as self.

Unless you are looking for adventure and a lot of drama run like crazy from a relationship with a jealous person.
Are you in a jealous relationship?


Love and Relationships

Love and Relationships

Sex really is not the most important thing in the world, or even in a marriage. What is of far more importance is how the people treat each other. Do they have respect, for each other, are they honest with each other, or are they controlling, jealous or self- centered? Do they support each other, believe in each other, help each other and encourage each other to grow? Can they talk about things, do they care about the other person’s welfare, and do they show love more than say it?

Don’t buy me gifts, and don’t tell me you love me. Well, you can say it sometimes but hold me when I cry, help me up when I stumble, talk to me. Share with me your bad day, your accomplishments, your dreams, your needs, and allow me to share those same feelings with you.

Love is not exclusive. I believe that if a person has that kind of love in a marriage they will have the same kind of love for others. I don’t think a controlling self-centered, jealous person changes just because of a certificate or marriage vows. Specifically, I am saying I love my children, my neighbor and everyone the same way I loved my husband but intimate relations are separate.
Intimate relations then are in addition to love. They become special, meaningful, binding, sacred and only for my spouse. That relationship is the result of love and commitment not the reason for it. In other words the intimate relationship should come about as the result of commitment. Intimate relationships without commitment, without the kind of love described above are meaningless. Such relationships are like an ice cream bar on a hot day. They melt fast and are soon gone. That is exactly what some people want and that’s fine. But commitment is meat and potatoes all the time. To me this is far more a meaningful love.
Do you agree or disagree?
 ~ Ceil